Posted on September 22, 2021
Erec Smith is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric at York College of Pennsylvania. Although he has eclectic scholarly interests, Smith’s primary focuses on the rhetorics of anti-racist activism, theory, and pedagogy. He is a co-founder of Free Black Thought, a website dedicated to highlighting viewpoint diversity within…
Posted on September 17, 2021
The United States Constitution establishes the law of the land. While its authors could hardly foresee the changes that would redefine what America was to become, they were wise enough to add to the embryonic document the ability to amend it to suit the times.
It is taken for granted that Americans will follow the law of the land, but not without challenge. Via the democratic voting process, Americans can alter or remove the laws and rules that are not compatible with contemporary thinking and practices. Since its creation in September 17, 1787 then ultimate ratification in 1789, there have been 27 amendments.
But that’s moot. The meaning of and connotations of the document can be as diverse as the folks who comment. If I were to scan Webster’s dictionary for the term “freedom,” I imagine I would see a picture of the Constitution beside it because that is the essence of its existence as enumerated in the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights.
White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, for the most part, separated from Britain, the mother country and “tyrannical” King George the Third, to create a new government, a republic form of democracy in which freedom “would ring,” as coined in 1831 in the lyrics by Samuel Francis Smith: “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty.” Over the subsequent 240 years, the millions upon millions of aliens, immigrants, foreigners who immigrated to our shores had one goal in mind, freedom to be themselves in a land of freedom and opportunity. Emma Lazarus’s famous 1883 sonnet summed it up in her work created for the Statue of Liberty: “cries she with silent lips. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., made the following allusion to freedom in his “I have a dream” speech in August of 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation,” when he expounded with his emotional conclusion (which was borrowed from a Black spiritual): “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” Americans have fought in so many wars beginning with the American Revolution till the recent end of our presence in Afghanistan, all for the cause of democracy and the freedom from tyrannical government, freedom from despotic control, freedom from totalitarian, authoritarian rule, or any power which steals or stifles or squelches our yearning for freedom to do it, as Frank Sinatra so curtly put it, “my way.”
After the 9/11 attack on our sovereignty, the damage and destruction to the Pentagon and World Trade Center with the death of over 3,000 American citizens, we unified, as exemplified by Americans across the country, to impress the invaders that we would never surrender our freedom.
America’s Supreme Court is constantly debating how “living” the Constitution is as a means of establishing the rules of law and order. But for me, the document will forever epitomize freedom.
Posted on September 9, 2021
Many of you have contacted my office regarding FEMA assistance to cover the damage caused by Tropical Storm Henri and Hurricane Ida.
Prior to making a formal request to FEMA for assistance, the state must identify the extent of the damages caused by hurricanes Henri and Ida. The Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) is currently assessing the extent of the damages to determine if FEMA thresholds are met and a disaster declaration is needed.
The deadline for municipalities…